It’s Round Two of high stakes Love Connection on Olympus, and this time, everything has changed. For Aphrodite, at least.
Ares is on deck, and Aphrodite is nervous. As much as she loves to hook up with him, she doesn’t trust him as far as she could throw him, which isn’t very far. He’s a big dude. They haven’t been together in a very long time, but she can’t resist him. She never could. Even when every part of her screamed that he was a liar.
He has a plan to keep Aphrodite, for good this time. He wants to win the game, but he’ll hold back to get what he wants. He’s sitting on a chance that he’s been waiting thousands of years for, and he’ll do what he has to do to convince her to stay forever.
The only thing that could stop him is the secret that he’s been keeping from her for eons. If she finds out, it will destroy everything.
Aphrodite is getting crap for her choice in player, because from the outside, it looks like a match that would never work.
Kat and Dillon have been through a lot, and everything has been to protect their younger siblings. They sacrificed everything to make sure their brother and sister would be safe. The players are tough and loyal.
Fierce and determined. But they become each other’s weakness, even though they fight it, and even though it means danger for Kat and her sister.
If Aphrodite can get the players over their egos long enough to see that they’re meant for each other, this competition will be a piece of cake. One that she’ll eat a la mode, right in front of Ares, if she beats him.
Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom; she has three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife; even though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f, ends with k, and there a uc in there.
From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she’s not writing, she’s sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics. But let’s be honest, she’s mostly writing.
Dillon parked in front of MacLennan’s and stepped out of the car. He looked up at the green and gold pub sign with a small four-leaf clover next to the name. They hadn’t been there in forever, since Brian liked to tour Brooklyn’s Irish pub circuit, to “keep it fresh.” He walked up to the door with his hands shoved in the pockets of his leather jacket, his grey hoodie hanging out of the neck, and Owen walked behind him with his collar flipped against the cold.
Dillon hated these after parties. He didn’t drink. Drinking made him too unpredictable. On top of that, he was always wiped out after fights. He’d much prefer to be home, but there was no way around it. The bigger he got, the more people expected to see him after a fight.
Brain said that it was all about PR. If the people who bet on him got to hang out with him, they’d be more likely to bet on him again. But the attention was too much for Dillon. He was honored that so many people wanted to wish him well, but the whole ordeal exhausted him.
He grabbed the brass handle to the pub door and gave Owen a look before pulling it open. The sound of music and people hit him like a wave, which surged once the crowd saw him and exploded into cheers. He smiled and ran a hand through his hair. The crowd parted, and Brian stepped through to him, grinning.
“Took you long enough. Come on, this way.” Brian turned, and the crowd opened up to let him through. They called Dillon’s name, some slapped him on the back. A few tried to hand him drinks, which he graciously turned down, and followed Brian to the bar with Owen in his wake.
They reached the long bar, all mahogany and brass, and the minute he sat down, a small pack of girls led by a bleached blond pushed their way in next to him.
“Hey, Dillon. Congrats on the fight.” Her glossy lips turned up in a smile, and she batted her mascara heavy lashes at him. She squeezed in close and laid her hand on his forearm.
“Thanks, Jessica.” He slid his arm out from under her hand and turned to Owen.
She poked out her lip for a split second, then pasted her smile back on and tried again. She pressed her arm against his as she leaned over the bar and shoved her breasts together. “So, you gonna buy a girl a drink?”
Dillon’s gaze swept over her cleavage spilling out of her low-cut shirt and he rolled his eyes. “You should ask Brian. He’s in charge of rounds.”
Her lip popped out again, and her cheeks flushed. A brunette next to her gave her a nudge and whispered something to her.
Jessica put on a seductive smile and slipped her hand down to his thigh. “Come on, Dillon.” Her words were sugary sweet. “For old time’s sake?”
Dillon looked her over again, his jaw set. “There weren’t ever any ‘old times’.” He turned in his stool and jerked his chin at Brian. “Hey, Bri. Jessica wants a drink. Can you help her out with that?”
Brian snickered. “Yeah, come on, Jess. The bartender’s down here. What are you drinking?” He draped his arm over her shoulders and steered her away. She looked back at Dillon, blowing him up with her eyes with her cronies on her heel.
Owen laughed and shook his head. “God, she never quits.”
“If I had known she was crazy, I never would have hooked up with her.”
“She’s not just crazy, she’s the queen of the asylum.” Owen leaned over the bar. “Damn, what does it take to get a drink around here?” Owen flagged his hand behind the bar.
A girl bent down behind the bar, hidden by a sheet of long, black hair, and when she stood up and turned to face him, all the breath left Dillon’s lungs.
His eyes met hers, intense and gray-green, lined with thick, black lashes. He traced the bridge of her long nose, over the tiny freckles sprinkled across it and onto her flushed apple cheeks. Her rosy lips were full and parted, and his gaze lingered there before pulling back to her eyes, snapping his to hers like magnets.
Owen’s face ping-ponged between the two, amused as they stared at each other. The noise in the bar was almost deafening, but the two of them were still and quiet, two unmoving points in an ocean of people.
Dillon shook himself, and she did the same. She turned to Owen. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you ordered.”
Owen cocked a smile, his eyes on his brother as he answered, “Uh, Guinness. Thanks.”
“And for you?” Her voice was smoke and fire, and she turned to Dillon again, he swallowed hard.
“Just water,” he said, his eyes fixed on hers.
“Sure,” she said and turned to walk to the taps, looking back over her shoulder at Dillon.
He watched her walk away, and Owen gave him a sly smile.
Dillon blinked a few times as his brow dropped. “What?”
“Nothing.” Owen smirked and turned back to the girl.
She came back a moment later and set their drinks down. Owen pulled out his wallet, but she put her hands up. “This goes on Brian’s tab.”
Owen snorted. “Right, Brian’s tab. Hey, what’s your name?”
She stood tall and confident, with her eyes on Dillon, and his on hers. “I’m Kat.”
“Hi, Kat. I’m Owen, and this here,” he slapped Dillon on the shoulder, “is Dillon, my big brother.”
“Yeah, I heard.” She cracked a smile, and Dillon’s heart beat a little faster. “Brian’s been talking you up for the last hour.” Someone shouted to her from the other end of the bar. “Nice to meet you,” she said casually and turned to the mob.
Kat blinked a few times as she walked away. For a second, she had been connected to him, his eyes holding her captive like a snake charmer, and she couldn’t look away. Her brows knit together while she poured a drink, trying to understand what happened. She glanced back over at him and found his eyes on her. The bruise on his jaw was dark, and he had a small cut under his eye. His lips were full and wide, and the bottom one was split. He looked at her fiercely, and she flushed, dropping her eyes back to the drink in front of her.