Child of War-A God is Born
Christmas Eve on Olympus
Child of War-Rising Son
Women of War
A Window To
Sex Love Magick
The Shame of Eminent Domain;
They will find out what is unique about you, and they will destroy you for it.
Title: The Heart of War
Author: Lisa Beth Darling
Publisher: Moon Mistress Publishing
Length: 526 pages
Book #1 in the OF WAR Series
Inside the heart of every warrior breathes the soul of a hero--even within The Heart of War.
Ares was in a foul mood and suffering from a splitting headache when he arrived back on the island with Alena. "Go inside." He said gruffly and pointed toward the cliffs and the cave above.
"Please, Alena, just do as I ask. Go."
She didn't want to leave him here, alone, on the beach but it didn't appear Ares was wanted company, not hers anyway. In the face of his Father and the other Olympians, Ares stood tall and strong. He'd come to her aid just as he said he would and kept his promise. Alena was stunned. When Zeus said he would return Ares' property and his station to him, she felt sure the God of War would sell her down the river. She wanted to thank him, wanted to ask why he had done it but she held her tongue. "Yes, my Lord." Hiking up the hem of the dress, she turned to make her way up the long strange stairs leading from the beach to the top of the cliff. With a heavy heart, she walked a few steps until she got to the base of the stairs and there she turned around. Ares was sitting on the sand facing the water and the setting sun. He had thrown off the belt with the heavy sword and his thick leather vest; they were in the sand next to him as he sat there with his head down in his hands. She could not leave him there. Quietly coming up behind him, Alena sat down, wrapped one arm over his left shoulder and the other under his right lacing her fingers together and pulling him backward. Alena expected him to balk or to fight but, instead, Ares settled backward into her arms, rested his head in the crook between her neck and shoulder as he let out an exhausted sigh. "I'm sorry I'm so much trouble, my Lord." She whispered as she nestled her face into his hair.
Letting the softness of her touch and the warmth of her body comfort him, Ares closed his eyes and drew in the peaceful shelter she offered. "It's not you. It's Them."
The Olympians were quite the Divinely Dysfunctional Family. Alena had never seen or heard so much bitter bickering from one clan. If that was her Family, she might be damn happy that she lived in Exile on a beautiful island such as this. "They're awful." She whispered in his ear careful not to let any prying ears overhear. Ares gave out a deep chuckle and then another sigh as his hand rose up to caress her arm. She thought of how brave, how daring, and even dashing, Ares had been as he stood there telling all of them they could not have her. When she listened to him speak of Artemis, Alena nearly cried. Then she had been stunned into silence having expected the God of War to hand her over, maybe not with ease but readily enough, in return for his crown and scepter. "Thank you for keeping your promise."
"You expected this chauvinistic pig to do less." Ares mused still with his eyes closed. "Everyone does."
Under her hands, beneath the thick pad of fur her fingers were twirling, Alena felt the steady beat of his heart. It too was brave and strong. "Why did you do it?"
Last night, Ares indulged himself in the pleasures Alena had to offer not in the name of any barter. Not for any affection. Just, simply, because the opportunity arose and he took it as he always did. Come morning, Ares expected that he would turn her over to the Olympians in exchange for those things so wrongfully taken from him. For all her intrigue and mystery, she was still, disposable. Unimportant. Superfluous. For centuries, all he thought about was going home and the chance finally fell into his lap, Ares thought it was a Gift from the Gods.
Yet when Zeus unknowingly presented all of them with irrefutable proof of Ares' innocence, he had the gall to make more demands upon him instead of lifting Ares' exile. It wasn't that Ares minded going to War, it was after all, his Thing. He wanted revenge for Artemis as much as much as any of them. Couldn't Zeus see that? Surely, he did, he must know this much about his Son. It was then that Ares realized none of it was about Justice, just Power. Nothing ever changed on Olympus. Standing there in the Great Chamber, Ares started wondering why he ever wanted to go back to Olympus. Why return to all of that bickering and backstabbing when he could stay on his island with her?
Last night she was expendable. Tonight that was no longer the case and he wasn't sure where the tide turned or even how it had done so. Ares understood that Vindication wasn't the Gift the Gods sent him; Alena was. With five thousand years behind him and, if all went all, another four or five thousand ahead of him, Ares was too old to mince words, too old to play stupid or coy. He wondered how much time his pretty little Fey had ahead of her. "I'd rather have one night with you here on my island than ten thousand more nights with them on Olympus."
"I'm tired of being alone." Ares confessed.
"You're not alone. You have all of your guards and your women."
"And still I am alone except when I'm with you. Then I am whole, no longer restless, and no longer weary." In her arms, Ares turned around quickly, put his arms around her, and brought her down to the warm sand. Staring into those stormy eyes Ares couldn't hold the words back any longer. "I love you, Alena."
Alena closed her eyes as his words washed over her. "Yet you told them that you don't love me." Alena prodded keeping the bulk and warmth of him close.
Ares opened his head as he tilted his head upward to look at her. "I don't recall saying that. Do you?"
Alena opened her mouth to speak but then closed it once more. No, he had not told Hera that he did not love her. Ares said he had no heart. That was a lie, he had a heart, and she could feel it beating away under her hand working its way deeper and deeper into her soul with every pulse. It seemed he had quite the slippery way with words. "I see you're an excellent strategist, my Lord."
"I know you think I'm a brute, an ogre, who can't stop living in days of old when men owned their women, it's not true." Ares mumbled. "I don't own the women here and I do not own you but I am charged with protecting all of you. If I hadn't said and done the things that I did, Alena, my Family would have been able to keep you on Olympus until the day you died if that's what they wanted. That is not what I want."
"Very tricky, very slick." Alena complimented. Yes, she had been scared out of her mind listening to the way Ares spoke about her, as though she were chattel, and not even present in the room. Now she could see that his old chauvinistic ways had some merit, a definite method to the madness.
"I am not tricking you now, so listen to me; I love you, Magdalena, you hold my heart in your hands. I have never felt anything like this in my life. Nothing this strong and undeniable except battle. Battle is not warm, it is not soft, and it is not peaceful. I can't bear the mere idea of being without you. Tell me you feel the same. Not because you have to, not because of some silly spell you think you live under."
"I fell in love with you the instant I saw you." Alena wrapped her arms around his bare torso as the faint memory of her first night on the island came to her mind. Vaguely she remembered opening her tired eyes, seeing his handsome face over her. She remembered kissing him and telling him that she loved him. "You're everything I never knew I needed."
"Then I am right; one night with you is worth more than ten thousand nights on Olympus without you." She was everything he had ever wanted and more. Ares was going to enjoy taking his time in showing her all of the secrets of making love and reveling in being the only man she would ever lay with. Such a gift was rare indeed and he should treat it with great reverence. "You will never want for anything. I will lay this world at your feet and pray to all of the Gods that it is enough to keep you by my side."
"My hero." Alena cooed heatedly feeling like a fairy princess in some fantastical fairy tale, possibly even one with a Happily Ever After.
Ares laid his forehead against hers. "I am no one's hero, woman."
"You're my hero," Alena corrected and gave his full lips a gentle peck. "But I doubt I can offer you ten thousand nights, my Love." The confession was full of sorrow. Alena wished she had met him a hundred years ago when she was still fairly young and had a fuller lifetime ahead of her. Fate could be cruel some times. Alena would not be sad for the days behind but elated for the days ahead long or short they may be.
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