The God of Sun tore me away from my mates.
Their agony at seeing me taken impaled my heart like a wooden stake, but now wasn’t the time to cry. I had work to do and a plan to make—to return to my mates, where I belonged.
“We’ll come for you, Cass baby!” They roared their determination and devastation, too far away to do anything else.
My males would rain down their wrath upon our enemy. They would find a way. They didn’t make empty promises.
They would come for me and tear both hell and heaven apart to set me free.
I had no doubt.
But we needed to fight smarter, and dirtier, since the gods were more powerful. The last thing I wanted was for my mates to rush to Mount Olympus, charge into the battle blindly and full of rage, and get themselves killed.
They were everything to me; any of them perishing would just shatter me.
“Don’t come for me before you’ve got a solid plan!” I barked back, trying to sound masterful and upbeat, but I failed at both. I hoped the wind could send my last message before Apollo made me disappear with him. I could already feel his breath on my neck, making my hairs stand on end.
He didn’t teleport; instead, he dragged me behind him as he sailed along the slipstream that the gods travelled. The sun god once rode the chariot of fire across the sky, and now he wanted to show me how I was under his mercy.
I was a pathetic sight, caged within the tight net of his crimson light, unable to move an inch, hauled along like luggage.
“Hey, where the fuck are you taking me to, batshit?” I shouted after him.
I couldn’t move, but I could still hurl insults his way. And hurl them I did, many of them and often; I was so good at it, since being locked inside the cage for over a decade had honed my skill at annoying people.
“You’ll learn to respect, desire, and submit to me, Cassandra Saélihn,” Apollo said in a flat tone, but he sped up, which meant I’d riled him.
But his sour mood didn’t do me any good because the ride soon became bumpier in the high air, turbulent and angry.
I wasn’t going to compromise though.
“Sure, I’ll respect, desire, and submit to you,” I offered.
He looked back at me over his shoulder, his handsome features softening a little. “You will? So easily, Cassandra?”
“Yes, sun god, when the sun comes out of your asshole.”
He frowned and the ride grew volatile again. “We’ll need to work on your sparkling personality once we get to my palace. You were raised as a wild animal, but it’s nothing I can’t fix. I saw your great potential the first time I laid my eyes upon you. I’ll make it my personal mission to transform you into a glorious goddess before I wed you.”
My heart skipped a beat. He intended to force himself on me. I sneered to cover up my dread. However, I needed more intel.
“And just how are you going to achieve that submission, Apollo?”
“At any cost,” he said. “And by any means.”
So, he was determined to tame me by using brutality. Icy fear cracked in my veins again, despite my apparent bravado.
Yet a small glimmer of comfort and hope flicked alive like a tiny flame in my stomach. He wouldn’t rape me before he’d made me live up to the standards he’d set for me. So long as I could stall him and hold on, I would make it until my mates came to save me, or I made my own escape.
I tried twisting my torso inside the cage of light and failed again. It had me held tight.
And soon I’d be in another cage, an even worse one.
I’d once sworn I would rather die than return to any cage, but I’d since changed my mind. I would suffer through anything for my mates. For them, I’d hang in there.
“Are you bringing me to Mount Olympus?” I demanded.
“What do you think?” he asked lazily. “I’d like to hear your thoughts, since they’re often entertaining when your mouth isn’t too foul.”
“Since I’m one of the goddesses, I have equal rights as you.” I was testing him. “I’ll protest your treatment of me before King Zeus and the jury of gods. You have no fucking business abducting me. Return me to the Academy now, and I’ll forget all about it.”
“There’s no jury, little Cass. We aren’t humans. You were raised among those ants, so you think small like them. The first lesson I offer you is never to apply the puny human standards to the gods. Zeus rules all as a tyrant since the beginning of time. If you think to gain some sympathy amongst the gods, you’d better drop the idiocy, or you won’t survive long. Zeus, the role model to us all, is a cheater and a rapist. He has violated countless women, including mortals, immortals, and goddesses. He even forced himself on Persephone, your stepmother, and then covered up his act by helping your father abduct her to the Underworld.”
“Just like how you’re abducting me?”
“I’m not kidnapping you,” he said. “I’m giving you a true future. The method might seem harsh, but it’s necessary for a stubborn creature like you. Your former lovers brainwashed you. They plucked you away just when you were about to make your debut in Olympian society. They took advantage of your naivety, and I have every intention of correcting these wrongs and undoing all the damage they’ve done.”
“So you say. If it’s not an abduction, you’ll remove the rope made of fucking light from me.”
“I can’t do that, Cass. It’s for your own good. We’re travelling through the slipstream. If I cut you loose, you’ll fall into another dimension and be lost among worlds of monsters. You don’t want that, do you?”
The gods didn’t think of themselves as monsters. Delusional assholes.
I scanned the endless clouds on either side of the path that stretched ahead of us. Strangely, there wasn’t even any wind there, despite our speed as we glided through our highway in the sky.
“Is this a ley line?” I asked.
“It’s superior to the supernaturals’ ley lines. Don’t forget we’re gods. You’re a god, too, yet you’re also something more. I just need to figure out the other part.”
I couldn’t help but sneer. “How can you be so sure I’m Hades’s daughter? You could be mistaken!”
“The major gods can sense each other’s bloodlines,” he said, ignoring my verbal challenges, and whistled. “We’re home.”
A vast patch of land loomed ahead. I could see the outlines of silver streams and lush gardens encasing an amethyst palace.
The whole place was suspended in the sky! How was I going to escape, then?
My heart sank further into an icy pit of despair as the slipstream disappeared behind us and we approached the courtyard, but that just made me meaner.
“So, this is Mount Olympus,” I snorted, derisive. “Where is the mountain made of pure gold?”
“If you like gold,” said Apollo, “your future throne, crown, and bed will all be made in its purest form.”
My future throne? Apollo wanted to put me on a throne in Mount Olympus? No, he meant his own throne with me beside him as his trophy bride. Huh, the dude still craved Zeus’s seat. Everyone knew that the sun god and the sea god had once conspired to overthrow Zeus.
The Olympians didn’t like failure. It made sense that Apollo wanted to try again. That was some good news for us. It’d be easy for earthlings to strike the gods when they were weak from warring against each other.
I bit my lip to hide a smile. I should encourage this war of the gods. But my mood dimmed the next second as another truth clicked into place within me—Apollo wanted me to be his weapon to kill Zeus. That was one of the reasons he’d kidnapped me.
“You’re not ready for Mount Olympus,” Apollo said. “I won’t parade you in front of everyone before you’re ready.”
I rolled my eyes. “Ready for what?”
“I’ll speak more of my plans only when you’ve earned the right, and I suggest you start now. First, you can drop your catty attitude.”
I would earn nothing, but instead destroy everything this fucker had, and then he could comment more on my attitude.
“Don’t be so eager to go to Mount Olympus to present your case, little Cass. Unlike me, the other gods will tear you limb from limb if they ever discover just how dangerous you are.”
He dragged me ahead roughly until we stood before the towering palace. White flame licked at its façade, guarding the entrance.
“Will you remove this fucking uncomfortable net?” I demanded. “Where can I possibly run when you set your lair in the middle of nowhere? If you’re so intimidated by a girl in a cage, however will you take on Zeus?”
“Intimidated by you, little mouse?” he hissed. “I’m only taking precautions.”
But he waved a hand, and the net of light dissolved from around me. Before I could lunge and kick him in the balls, his hand lashed out, faster than lightning.
I’d reacted a split second too late.
A gold torque, ornate with cursed, ancient runes, clicked around my neck to latch right by the nape; it held me tight, bound and collared.
“You’re allowed to roam in my realm, as I’m a gracious and beneficent god, but you’ll have to wear this all the time.”
I threw up my hands in rage and blasted my most lethal flames at the Sun God. My fires rose in sparks, all-consuming, a crescendo... then whimpered, and sank into the bottom of the abyss.
Apprehension hit me like a fist to the gut. The torque served to bind my power.
“You said you liked gold, didn’t you, little Cass?” Apollo said with a swaggering smile.