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CHAPTER 7.




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  2. CHAPTER 1
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  4. Chapter 1
  5. CHAPTER 10
  6. CHAPTER 10
  7. Chapter 10
  8. CHAPTER 10
  9. Chapter 11
  10. CHAPTER 11

 

GEARY SAT IN THE CAR, STARING AT HER PERMITS AS IF they were the mythical Holy Grail that had miraculously dropped into her lap while George politely ignored her. She didn't know what was keeping the men. Maybe Arik had found some other woman to molest…

That bizarre thought triggered an odd jealous twinge—which really made no sense. At the moment, she'd gladly pay someone to take Arik off her hands. "George?"

He met her gaze in the rearview mirror. "Yes, miss?"

"How long have you worked for Solin?"

"Long enough, miss. Long enough."

Boy, wasn't he the font of all information? Before she could continue her questioning, the guys finally left the building.

They were much more subdued as they joined her in the car.

Solin offered her a tight-lipped smile. "Are you happy now, Dr. Kafieri?"

"Thrilled beyond belief."

"Good." He cleared his throat. "By the way, I would like to apologize for my brother's unconscionable behavior."

"I don't need you to apologize for me, Solin. I'm quite capable of doing it myself."

If George hadn't picked that exact second to pull into traffic, she'd have swung the door open and left. "And just out of curiosity, what made you think that that behavior was appropriate?"

Arik sighed. "I wasn't thinking at all. The truth is you surprised me and I reacted poorly. For that I'm truly sorry. I would never have insulted you in any way."

Okay, so the guy could be charming when he put forth the effort…

But she still wasn't quite ready to let him off the hook. "Do you always make it a habit of groping a woman's private places in public?"

Arik narrowed his gaze as he returned her question with one of his own. "Do you make it a habit of throwing yourself against men and kissing them in public?"

Her face flushed as a feeling of dread consumed him. He'd offended her. Again. Damn, being human was hard.

"No, I don't," she snapped, her eyes blazing. "And I can assure you that I will never do such a thing again. Especially not to you and not in public, private, or anywhere else."



"Good going, Arik," Solin said snidely in his head. "Any more brilliant apologies and you'll be able to sell icicles on the equator."

He glared at Solin. "Have you a better one?"

"Tell her that you couldn't help yourself, you were overwhelmed by her beauty. That she is the most desirable woman you've ever kissed and because of that your emotions ran away with you."

"I don't think that's going to work."

"Trust me, it always works."

Arik wasn't so sure, but since Solin had more experience on this plane, he decided to listen to him. "I couldn't help myself, Geary. I was overwhelmed by your desire and I've never kissed a woman more beautiful than you."

Instead of placating her, that only seemed to anger her more.

"That's not what I said, Arik. Jeez."

"You were overwhelmed by my desire?" she said, enunciating each word slowly so that they conveyed the full weight of her anger. "What planet are you from?"

"Moronia," Solin said out loud. "Every full moon they teleport the Morons to earth and let them loose. Consider this your first encounter."



"Shut up, Solin," Arik said from between clenched teeth. Then he projected, "I told you it wouldn't work."

"It would have had you said it the way I told you to."

Before he spoke to Megeara Solin glared at him. "I hope you can forgive my brother, Doctor. He was raised in the mountains where there wasn't any real civilization of any sort. He's basically a goat farmer and he isn't used to interacting with people. He lacks many social skills."

"Oh, thank you. Why not tell her that I wet the bed in my sleep while you're at it?"

"If it'll work, I will."

Megeara gave him a gimlet stare. "Is that the truth?"

"Yes," Arik said. "I haven't had much interaction with human people."

She gave a light laugh. "Human people, huh? Are there any other kind?"

As a matter of fact there were, but now didn't seem like the time or place to educate her on that.

Grateful that her mood was lighter, he offered her a small smile. "Can you forgive me for my behavior? Please."

She looked down at the permits in her lap, then smiled. "I think I can, but only if you promise to never do something like that again."

"I swear it on Solin's life."

Solin sputtered, "Uh, excuse me?"

"I would, but there's truly no excuse for you."

He folded his arms over his chest. "Ha, ha."

Geary rolled her eyes at them, but deep inside their bantering play made her ache. She and Jason used to bait each other like that. It would drive her father to distraction, and the weird thing was neither she nor Jason knew why they did it.



It must have been innate sibling behavior that made them constantly pick at each other. Jason had been a smart, good-looking teenager who would have followed her father to the ends of the earth without complaint.

God, how she missed Jason.

"Are you all right, Megeara?"

She met Arik's concerned gaze before she nodded. "Sorry, I was just thinking about something."

"Something?"

"Personal," she finished.

He nodded and she was grateful that he didn't pursue his line of questioning. Anytime she thought about Jason, it made her cry.

"So what do we do now in preparation for the excavation?" Arik asked, changing the subject.

When she didn't respond quickly enough, Arik pointed toward her permits. "Remember our bargain?"

"I remember."

Solin sat forward on the seat. "What bargain is this?"

"That I would allow Arik to participate on the team if he came through with the permits."

Solin arched a brow. "Really? Well, in that case I want to join you."

Geary was aghast at his request. The boat was crowded enough with their team, they really didn't need anyone else. And especially not someone who would only get in the way. "I don't think that's a good idea. You don't strike me as the academic type."

A seductive smile curled his lips. "Oh, I assure you, I'm extremely knowledgeable about this subject. So much so that some swear I actually lived in ancient Greece."

Yeah, right. Mr. Rolls and Armani in a library—why did that image just not jibe with her? Oh wait, because he might get dust on his Ferragamos.

"Uh-huh. You study ancient history?"

"All the time."

She narrowed her gaze on him. "Fine. Give me the date of the Peloponnesian war."

"Which one?"

Geary was amazed that he knew even that much. "The first one."

"It began 431 BC between the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta and the Delian League led by Athens. Archidamus II, who was leading the Spartans, believed that he could keep them in a land war, which Sparta was unrivaled at, that would weaken Athens. Their commander Pericles believed he could use the Athenian navy, which was the backbone of Athenian power, to weaken Sparta. Needless to say, the war lasted much longer than either side intended. And while I find the writings of Thucydides a little on the dry side, I have to admire the way Aristophanes was able to poke fun at the leaders and events of the time." He paused for effect. "Of course this is all an extremely cursory overview that trivializes the entire event into an absurd Cliffs Note."

Geary had to force herself not to gape at his unexpected dissertation and commentary. "Okay, so you're not faking. I have to say that I am impressed. It's not often I find anyone who has even the most modest understanding of what I'm talking about."

"Don't be. You'll find both Arik and myself quite useful when it comes to understanding antiquities."

She looked at Arik. "And what was your favorite event of the war?"

"I prefer the Peace of Nicias. Time's too precious to waste it with war and conflict."

His words made her smile. "But the peace was fraught with skirmishes and ultimately broken."

"Yes, and doesn't it piss you off that there are always assholes who just can't let other people live in peace? Really, some people should get a life."

He had a point with that. In more ways than one.

George pulled to a stop at the marina.

Geary glanced out at her boat where she could see Tory and Teddy sitting together while they compared notes. "Well, it looks like I'm home."

Arik reached out and gently took her hand. "What about our bargain?"

She really hated that bargain. When they'd made it, she'd thought he was kidding, but then again she owed him much for what he'd given her today. "Fine. You guys can come. We're not going to do anything tonight except prepare for tomorrow's dig. Be here at dawn, sharp. I won't wait for you."

"We'll be here."

Solin groaned. "What is it with you morning people?"

Geary tsked at him. "You don't have to join us, you know."

Arik met her gaze without humor. "We'll be here."

"Then I'll see you tomorrow."

George opened her door and she left the men to themselves.

Arik didn't speak until after George had shut the car door. Then he turned back to Solin. "What do you think you're doing?" he projected the thought to his brother to keep the driver from overhearing them.

"Nothing," Solin said out loud.

Still, Arik wasn't placated. He knew Solin was up to something. Why else would he come on Megeara's expedition when he had no reason to? "Megeara belongs to me."

Solin scoffed at Arik's anger. "I have no interest in her, believe me. She's all yours."

"Then why are you coming?"

His face sobered. "To make sure you don't screw up. Have you any idea how bad it would be if they learned what you are?"

Relieved that was Solin's only reason, Arik sat back in the seat. "They won't."

"No, they won't, which is why I'm going with you. I'll be there to help cover any blunders you make. Now can you at least say, Thank you, Solin'?"

He said it from between clenched teeth and with no real sincerity. "Thank you, Solin."

"You're welcome." He pressed the button for his intercom. "George, it appears my brother is in desperate need of clothing."

"Very good, sir. I'll head to the store right now."

 

TORY MET GEARY ON THE GANGWAY. HER FACE WAS SO hopeful that it brought tears to Geary's eyes. "Well?"

Geary forced herself not to smile as she shook her head no.

Tory cursed until Geary handed her the permits. It took a full ten seconds before Tory realized what they were.

She literally jumped up and down. "Oh my God!"

"Yes."

"Oh my God!"

"Yes, Tory."

Screaming, she ran up the gangway, then stopped at the top and ran back to Geary. "They're not forgeries, are they?"

"No."

She screamed again and ran to tell Teddy.

Geary laughed at Tory's exuberance. For once she was acting her age.

By the time Geary reached the deck, the entire team was there.

"You really got them?" Teddy asked.

"I got them. We're starting at dawn."

You would have thought she'd brought home the winning lottery ticket—but then maybe she had. All of them had been aching for this for years and now their patience had paid off.

They were going excavating.

Geary paused as she noted the reservation on Kat's face. "Is something wrong, Kat?"

"Oh no. I'm just stunned. I have to say that I never expected this."

"Yeah, I know. It's unbelievable."

"Yes," Kat said coldly, "it is."

"Aren't you excited?" Tory asked.

"Thrilled." But Kat's tone belied the word.

Geary frowned, wondering what had Kat so upset. But the rest of the team's happiness and her own quickly had her forgetting all about it as they planned what they were going to do once they'd found Atlantis.

Kat stood back as the group headed below the deck and a chill went down her spine. Geary had found the location and Arik had just handed her the key to the door.

"You can't let them snoop around the remains, Katra…" Artemis's words rang in her ears. "If you do, they will find the seal and release the Destroyer back into this world. Should Apollymi ever be freed, I know I don't have to tell you what she would do to us. To me. You can't let her be free. Ever."

That was easier said than done, especially since Kat could hear Apollymi calling out to her from her prison in Kalosis. Apollymi wanted her freedom as badly as the rest of the gods wanted her trapped.

And Kat was caught in the middle.

But at the end of the day, she knew the real reason she had to keep Atlantis hidden. If anyone ever learned the truth of what had happened to the island, the one person who would be destroyed was the one person she loved more than anyone else.

Acheron Parthenopaeus.

Eleven thousand years ago he'd been enslaved to Artemis, and he had been mankind's champion ever since. He was the leader of the goddess's army of Dark-Hunters who protected humanity from the demons who preyed on them. And while he protected the Dark-Hunters and humans, no one had ever watched his back.

Except for Kat.

For him alone, she would do whatever she had to to keep this place sacred and buried. And if that meant sacrificing every person on this boat, including Geary, so be it.

No one would ever hurt Acheron. Not if Kat could help it.


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