Free Reads

THE BRIDE

The late summer day baked the cobblestones embedded in the alleyway on the way to the club. Juliet heaved a sigh as she wiggled a painfully warm foot clad in her favorite pair of strappy sandals. She bounced Annabelle a little higher on her hip. The narrow passages were a little more pleasant during the daylight. They still stank of urine, especially in the heat. There were, however, very few suspicious folks to make Juliet nervous.

She gnawed on her lip as she turned the final corner towards her destination. Ares asked to meet her at his temple but didn’t explain why. He had become distant since she took Hera’s place on her throne to open Tartarus. He took Zeus’s throne to accomplish the same thing. Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia and Persephone took spots on the other four thrones of the original six Greek gods to complete the ritual.

It almost killed Juliet. Had Ares not broken the connection between her and the five gods and goddesses, she would have died. And it was virtually impossible to kill a nymph.

She was, essentially, a minor goddess now herself.

He didn’t respond to texts and, when he did, it was hours later. He didn’t answer his calls. Some nights he didn’t come home to their new townhouse in Washington DC near Athena and Mack until the wee hours of the morning. When they were together, he barely spoke to her. It was idle chit chat.

Of course, it didn’t stop the sex. He was still voracious with her. But was he that way with a new woman, too? Had he reconciled with Aphrodite? For being the god of war, Ares was a coward. He was probably avoiding her so they wouldn’t have to have this talk. Someone had to be forcing his hand.

Did he call her to the club to break their engagement?

Tears suddenly burned her eyes. If he was, the news she needed to share with him was going to be awkward to say the least.

The old, thick wooden door of Ares’s club came into view. The place also served as his temple away from Olympus. For Juliet it was like seeing an old friend. Now, it was the last thing she wanted to see.

She sucked in a deep breath to steel her nerves then yanked the door open.

The sight that met her nearly made her drop Annabelle. Juliet tightened her grip on the toddler and held her close as she blinked her eyes furiously.

Normally the place was empty except for the boxing ring or MMA cage Ares held his fights in. The god changed them out to suit what his whim was that night. But that wasn’t the case now. The equipment was stowed away to gods know where. Instead, half of the worn plank warehouse floor was covered with rows of white wooden chairs arranged in two columns. Inside each column, the rows were linked to the one before it with a garland strand of evergreens and pure white lilies and roses. They faced a platform adorned with the same flowers along with pillars of candles. Ares’s altar, which normally held the bowl of blood used for his rituals, was in the center covered in linen and greenery. A white satin runner ran from the hallway that led to Ares’s office between the columns of chairs to the platform.

Juliet’s heart thundered in her chest. What was all this about? Was Ares hosting a wedding?

Her thoughts froze in her brain. Was Ares hosting their…

She nearly jumped out of her skin as she heard the door to the storeroom open. Freddy sauntered across the floor towards her with a thick cardboard box in his arms. He was dressed in a pair of black tuxedo pants and a neatly pressed lined dress shirt. Black suspenders draped over his chest to the waistband of the slacks. The bottles inside the box clinked together like wind chimes. The sound would have been soothing if Juliet wasn’t baffled by what was happening around her.

“Hey, Juliet.” He set the box on the old wooden bar then brushed his hands together to rid them of the dust. He waved at Annabelle. “Hey, Sweetpea.”

The little girl buried her face shyly into the curve of her mother’s neck. Juliet’s voice came out a little sharper than she wanted. “Where’s Ares?”

“He can’t see you right now,” Freddy responded.

“He called me here. He asked me to come here. Why exactly can he now not see me?” she demanded.

Freddy gave her a triumphant grin. “Because the groom can’t see the bride before the wedding. Duh. I mean, that concept might be lost on the rest of the family since they're a bajillion years old. But fuck, Juliet, I figured you knew that.”

“We..we..dd..ing,” Juliet stammered. She was certain she was about to throw up. She had been doing that a lot lately. Ares hadn’t been around to witness any of it.

“Surprise. Demeter, Athena and Persephone are upstairs to help you get ready.”

“Wait. Just…” She held up a hand to try to get some semblance of control. She knew she was failing miserably.

Freddy was still smiling like he won the lottery. “What do I need to explain, sweetheart?”

“Let’s start with all of it, maybe. Ares hasn’t been around. He’s been ghosting me every chance he got. And now this?”

“Of course he was. There’s a shitload of things to plan when it comes to a wedding. And dude, I love the guy, but he can’t keep a secret to save his life. All the times he avoided you over the past few weeks? He was afraid he was going to blow it and ruin everything.”

She looked around the room. It started to spin as she did so. “Ares did all this?”

“I mean as his best man I helped. But yeah, it was all his idea. He’s been working on it since the ritual. Seeing you in that bed at Demeter’s after we broke out of Tartarus woke him up. He knew then that he could lose you. It terrified him and that means something when you scare the shit out of the god of war. So he started planning to make you his for the rest of eternity.”

Freddy’s words were the final straw. Juliet scrambled to the bar as her stomach churned. She plopped Annabelle on the wood surface next to the box Freddy had left here then raced to the trash can behind the bar. She barely got there before she lost what little was in her stomach.

She felt Freddy brush her hair out of her face. She glanced up to find him standing over her with Annabelle now balanced on his hip.

“Are you okay?” he asked, concern evident in his voice.

“I need to talk to Ares,” she murmured.

Freddy was still for a moment. “Yeah. Got it. How long?”

She gave him a half shrug. “About a month, according to Apollo.”

“Wow. And here Ares thought he was the one with the surprises. You two will have lots of time to talk about this after the ceremony.”

Juliet wiped her mouth off with the back of her hand as she sat back on her heels. She dropped her head. “Do you think he’s going to be pissed?”

Freddy chuckled as he gazed at Annabelle. The little girl giggled back at him as she reached up and patted his cheeks. “No, Juliet. I think he’ll be over the moon. If anything, he’ll be irritated you didn’t tell him sooner. He knows you. If you want to get in his face, you will.”

She laughed as she looked up at him. She took the hand he offered to help her up. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

“I know I’m right.” He pointed to the door on the far side of the club. “The ladies are waiting for you in my old apartment. Scoot. We need to get this show on the road.”

She reached for Annabelle. “I wouldn’t want to hose things up.”

He glanced at her stomach then back up to her face. “I’ll carry Annabelle. I don’t want anything to happen to you on your wedding day. Besides, if I do, I can steal a kiss from my wife.”

Juliet smiled at him as she rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Let’s go.”

She crossed to the door and up the staircase inside with Freddy and Annabelle on her heels.

 

THE GROOM

Ares stopped his pacing to glance at the watch on his wrist. He never wore a watch. It was too easy to destroy it in a fist fight. But his uncle, Hades, had given it to him as an early wedding gift. The old man loved these expensive luxury trinkets. Ares might as well wear it for the day.

It was also one more step towards being worthy of his bride. Granted, he had been alive for thousands of years before his Juliet took her first breath. He was an almighty god, for fuck’s sakes.

But when she was near, he wanted to fall to his knees in reverent worship. His ex, Aphrodite, didn’t hold a candle to her. Juliet was so beautiful. She gave him a precious daughter. She was the best mother and partner he had ever encountered in his existence. And her snarky attitude made him hard as a rock. She was, without question, made for him.

So if his little plan didn’t work, he wouldn’t know what to do. He couldn’t live without her. Yes, he was an asshole not to let her be part of the planning. And yes, he was an even bigger bastard for invading her dreams to find out what her dream wedding was.

This had to work. It just had to. He started his pacing again as he clasped his hands behind his back.

“Relax, nephew. You’re going to wear a rut in the floor. You wouldn’t want to ruin such a masterpiece.”

Ares lifted his head to glare at his uncle. Hades sat behind Ares’s desk like a high powered corporate CEO. It made the god of war want to strip his arm free of the watch and chuck it at him.

Ares’s scowl shot to Mack tapping furiously on his phone. Of course the mutt was playing a game. Could he be more useless?

It then moved on to Pan and Poseidon obviously doing the same thing. Scratch that. His entire family was useless. With an aggravated huff, he continued his pacing.

He froze and his eyes widened as his office door opened. Freddy slipped inside and closed it softly behind him.

“So?” Ares demanded.

Freddy gave him a gentle smile. “She’s here. I escorted her and Annabelle up to my old apartment and left her in the more than capable hands of your aunt, sister, and cousin.”

Ares deflated a little. It didn’t calm his nerves any. “Is she mad?”

“Not really. But she does want to talk with you.”

“So she is mad.”

“I said no. She also has a little surprise.”

“Gentlemen.” Hades interrupted the banter. He stood, letting his full length expand as he stretched. Then he reached for the scotch on the desk. “Let’s have a toast to Ares and Juliet before I take my leave of you to escort the bride down the aisle.”

“Bastard,” Poseidon grumbled.

“You lost fair and square, brother,” Hades chided as he set out five shot glasses and filled them. “Besides, you did a spectacular job as the officiant of Persephone and my second wedding. No one wants the god of death joining them as husband and wife.”

Poseidon took the glass Hades offered. “Whatever.”

Mack lifted his in the air. “To Ares and Juliet. May they have an eternity of love, happiness and quiet. Emphasis on the quiet. You two get so loud when you argue.”

The other three men echoed his sediment with a “here, here,” before lifting their own shot then tossing it back.

Ares watched each of them for a moment. Yeah, everything was a go. He was about to marry the woman he loved. But what secret was she keeping?

With a sigh he tilted his head and the shot glass back, swallowing the thick liquid in one gulp.

 

THE BRIDE

Juliet felt like a deer in headlights as she stood before the three goddesses. She clutched Annabelle to her like her life depended on it. Freddy deposited her quickly in the room and closed the door behind himself after planting a kiss on his wife. She could hear her pulse in her ears as they stared back at her.

“For Olympus’s sake, we’re not going to hurt you,” Demeter finally assured.

“I’m.” The word came out as a squeak. Juliet swallowed hard then tried again. “I’m just a little overwhelmed.”

Athena crossed the tiny living room and scooped Annabelle out of Juliet’s arms. She set the girl gently next to Marcus, who was trying to stack blocks on top of each other with little success. “We get that, Sis. But don’t be. This is a happy moment, isn’t it? I mean, yeah, Ares should have included you in the planning. But even I think the surprise is a little romantic.”

Juliet blinked at Athena for a long moment. Her body finally relaxed. The goddess was right. It was very romantic. And so unlike her betrothed. Maybe that was what was unnerved Juliet.

She let out a barking laugh. “I have so many questions. I don’t even know where to begin. Like my dress. What am I supposed to wear?”

The goddesses shot each other an uneasy look. The tension was only slightly broke by the giggles coming from the babies playing with each other.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Juliet demanded.

“Your dress is in the bedroom,” Persephone answered.

Juliet heaved a sigh. Here it was. Ares chose what she would have to wear as she made her way down the aisle to him. The god had great taste. She couldn’t deny that. But the outfits he picked out for her usually ranged in the one-step-up-from-lingerie category. It was certainly not something she wanted to be in on her wedding day.

She spun on her toe and strode her way through the apartment to the bedroom. There weren’t many walls separating one room from the other. What there was blocked her view from the garment until she was standing before it.

Her breath caught in her throat. She felt the room spin again. This was all too much.

It was the exact dress she had designed in her mind. She had seen one like it in a bridal magazine that Hestia gave to her. Okay, Hestia gave her more like a hundred but she only read the one. She fell instantly in love with it but wanted long sleeves instead of short and a V-neck that dropped between her breasts.

She knew who she was eventually marrying.

She searched in vain for something like it but found nothing. She never told Ares about it. At the most she confided in Athena. When Ares and her finally set a date, she would ask for some divine intervention to order the one from the magazine and live with it the way it was made.

Except the dress she wished for, the one of her dreams, was hanging off the open closet door, the lace covered train smoothed out to its fullest.

She pointed to the garment. “How...how…”

Athena cringed. “Okay, the asshole move my brother made was to invade your thoughts and get each detail you had thought up out of your brain. He sort of took advantage of your connection to him to wedding plan. I guess he did it when you were sleeping.”

Juliet nodded absentmindedly as she sunk on the naked mattress. “Sure, got it. So your dresses are…”

“Lavender, gauzy sundresses,” Persephone confessed. “Great taste, by the way.”

“Yeah, I need a minute.”

Demeter sat beside Juliet on the bed and draped an arm over her shoulders. The bed shifted lower with the bulk of the twins she was carrying. “Are you okay? You look a sickly sort of green.”

A moment later, the goddess of the harvest straightened like a board. “Oh.”

Juliet peeked out from between her fingers. “What?”

Demeter turned her attention to Persephone. “Seph, go find your stepfather or his brother and see if Ares has any ginger ale behind the bar. Have them put it in a glass with ice and bring it back up here. It should help settle Juliet’s stomach a bit.”

She looked at Juliet. “Why didn’t you tell us?”

“Tell you what?” Juliet insisted.

“That you’re pregnant. I’m one of the original six Greek gods and goddesses. I know when a woman is with child and sweetheart, you are.”

“Because the father doesn’t know yet. Apollo just confirmed it for me. I figured I was coming here to get dumped by Ares, so I was going to counter with that little tidbit. We’ve barely seen each other lately and I haven’t talked to him since I left Apollo. But now it’s our wedding day and I can’t see him until we’re standing at the altar and…” Her voice trained off with a huff.

Demeter reached an arm around her to rub her back. The touch was firm but soothing. “There’s a lot. I get it. Do you not want to go through with this?”

Juliet laid her hands in her lap. “Of course I do. I love him. I want to be his wife. But this just isn’t like Ares. I guess I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Athena settled on the other side of her. “I’ve known my brother for thousands of years. You’ve changed him for the better. There’s no shoe going to drop. He’s a god in love just trying to please the object of his affections.”

Juliet smiled at each of them then gave them a side hug. “So, now what?”

“Well,” Demeter began. “You can either wait for Seph to come back with your ginger ale or you can hop in the shower and relax under the hot water. Your choice.”

Juliet bit at her bottom lip. “Shower. That sounds wonderful right now.”

Athena stood then hauled Juliet to her feet. “Alright, then. Off with you. The guests will be here soon.”

Juliet scuttled to the bathroom, closing the door behind her. She flipped on the hot water knob to get the shower started. She wasted no time to strip out of her clothes. Slipping beneath the hot stream, she moaned. After so much upheaval, this felt amazing.

She didn’t know how long she stood there enjoying the quiet. It didn’t feel long enough. There was a soft rap at the door.

“Juliet, are you almost done? There isn’t much time and Hades is here to walk you down the aisle.”

She couldn’t discern the voice. It was either Persephone or Athena. She shook her head with a chuckle. With everything else happening right now, it didn’t amaze her at all that the god of death would be playing the part of her father. She spun the knob off then stepped out. Picking up the fluffy mint green towel, she patted herself dry.

“Am I changing in here?” Juliet called out through the closed door.

“Heavens, no. He’s been banned out to the living room with the babies,” Demeter replied, her voice a little louder than normal to get through the barrier.

Juliet wrapped the towel around herself and reached for the knob. Twisting it, she tugged the door toward herself. In the bedroom, she found the other three goddesses already dressed. Persephone and Athena were garbed in the dresses that Juliet had hoped to con them into. Demeter wore a suit that bordered on business and mother of the bride. All of them were a lovely shade of lavender.

The bridal gown was now splayed across the bed. Juliet took a step towards it. It was so intricate and beautiful, but it was going to be a bitch to get on.

Athena grabbed her hand and tugged her in the opposite direction. “Hair first. Makeup first. Then the dress.”

Juliet cocked a grin at her. “You’re doing my hair?”

Athena scowled. “I may be the goddess of wisdom and war, but I am a goddess. I can wield a curling iron.”

“Sure. Sure. Can’t wait to see this.”

Athena growled as she pointed at the wall. A second later, a marble vanity appeared complete with every accessory they would need including three shades of eye shadow, blush and lipstick. The bench had a plush ruby cushion draped across it. Juliet dropped on it with an excited squeal.

Athena wasn’t the only one to fuss over the bride. Each goddess took their turn at her. There was an occasional gripe or snarky remark when one attempted to change what another had done. Juliet watched them from the reflection in the mirror. Before she was turned into a vampire prior to the French Revolution, she was a courtesan in the place, Yes, it was a glamorous life, but she never had anyone fret over her like this.

This was what being part of a family was like. Her new one might have been legendarily dysfunctional but they loved harder than anyone she knew.

“Ladies, I don’t mean to rush you. However, the guests are arriving,” a deep voice boomed from the other room.

“Yes, my love,” Persephone called back in a sing-song voice.

“Hold your horses,” Demeter followed. She laid a hand on Juliet’s shoulder. “How’s that, sweetheart?”

Juliet gazed at her image. Her ebony hair fell down her shoulders in big curls. Her cheeks were a subtle pink and her lips scarlet red. She felt like a princess. “I love it. You’re all amazing.”

“Eh, we try.” Demeter nudged her off the bench. Together, the four goddesses turned and approached the bed. Demeter, Athena and Persephone carefully lifted the gown above Juliet’s head. It took awhile for them to ease it on. Once the zipper was pulled into place, Athena slipped a few tiny roses into Juliet’s hair.

Juliet spun slowly back to the mirror for a final look. Her heart raced. There she was, standing in her wedding dress. The day she had wished centuries for was here.

And her groom waited for her downstairs.

She caught a sniffle behind her. The tears pooling in Demeter’s eyes were hard to miss.

“Ah, Momma. Don’t cry,” Persephone consoled as she hugged her mother.

Juliet scuttled the best she could to the goddess of the harvest and wrapped her in a hug. “Yeah, Momma. Don’t cry.”

“You are beautiful. I am so happy,” Demeter blubbered then sucked in a breath. “I know you are made for each other. Just remember that he is the god of war. He can be such an asshole at times.”

They all laughed. Demeter rarely cursed. “I know. Thank you, all.”

“We need to go,” Hades reminded.

They all met him in the living room, finding a child in each of his arms. They had been changed into wedding clothes of their own. Annabelle wore a gown identical to Athena and Persephone. Marcus wore a little tux. By the slightly disheveled way they dressed, it was easy to tell that Hades was left to dress them.

“Seriously, you had one job.” Demeter shook her head in exasperation. A moment later, a breeze filled the room. The garments on the children fluffed out and fell in perfect place.

“You know they squirm non-stop,” Hades retorted.

“You’re about to be a father. You might want to get used to it.” Demeter took Marcus then nodded to Athena to take Annabelle. The three goddesses swept from the room, leaving Juliet with the god of death.

Hades crooked his elbow to her. “Shall we?”

She wrapped her arm around his. “Lead the way.”

 

THE GROOM

Ares watched from his spot on the platform next to Poseidon as the rest of his family settled into their seats. Why did he invite so many of them? Most of them hated him. He didn’t like them much, either.

He glanced at the doorway leading to Freddy’s old apartment. There had been absolutely no movement since he, Freddy and Mack took their places. Pan scuttled up and down the rows of guests to hand out programs, his hooves clicking out a melody on the wooden planks. It was starting to grate on Ares’s nerves.

“Nervous?” Freddy asked over his shoulder.

“Who the fuck thought it was a good idea to make Pan the usher?” Ares quipped.

“You, old man. You wanted to include him in the wedding party since you are so attached to him. It was your idea to put him in that position. Which is good because your family might be the great gods of Greece, but they couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag.”

Ares bit back a laugh. His best friend wasn’t wrong. Most of his relatives were clueless. He glanced at the two empty chairs in the front row. He knew his parents weren’t coming. They might have made amends with the entire clan but it wasn’t enough to support their own son.

His gaze drifted to the other two vacant ones on the other side of the aisle. Those two, however, would soon be filled with his uncle and aunt, who would both be fussing over two babies while the tots’ parents and their own spouses were involved in the wedding. And that was certainly enough for him.

He looked back at the door. That was if there was a wedding.

“You know that there is no way out of the building from there, right?” Freddy reminded him.

“They could ghost,” Ares muttered.

A flicker of color appeared in the doorway. Demeter scurried across the club floor towards the gathering with Marcus in her arms. She rested into one of the empty seats in the front then settled the child on her lap.

Ares was so preoccupied watching his aunt that he missed the commotion around him. He felt a sharp elbow in his ribs.

He glanced up in time to see Persephone halfway down the aisle, a bouquet of roses, lilies, and greenery clenched in her hands. Athena was a few steps behind her, her flowers hanging off an idle finger as she held his daughter in her arms.

He sucked in sharp breath as his body stiffened. At the opposite end of the aisle from him was Juliet and Hades. He thought she was an exquisite creature when he first saw her outside of that MMA cage the first night they slept together.

Now dressed in her wedding gown, her thick black curls a sharp contrast to the white fabric, she was breathtaking. He couldn’t assemble a thought. For the first time in his existence he was dumbstruck.

“Wow,” Freddy breathed.

“Holy shit,” Mack echoed.

By instinct, Ares wanted to snap at them to shut up but he couldn’t move. All he could do was stare at his bride. He had to look like a lovestruck moron.

She met his gaze with her own. The smile she gave him made his heart race.

Hades stopped himself and Juliet at the edge of the platform. Ares muscles twitched to take a step to her but he froze when Poseidon spoke.

“Family, we are gathered today to celebrate the union of Juliet, nymph of Aphrodite, former vampire and all around ass kicker, and Ares, the god of war. Who gives this woman to this man?”

Ares watched as Hades gave her a warm smile. He slipped his arm free then took her hand. He placed a kiss on her knuckles as he did on the first day she met him in that VIP lounge in Vegas. “I, Hades, the god of the underworld, do.”

Hades took her hand that he held and reached it out to Ares. Juliet pecked Hades on the cheek as she stepped up on the platform before Ares, taking his hands in hers. Normally the god of war had some caustic, snarky remark on his tongue. This time the only word he could choke out was a breathy, “Hey.”

“Hey,” she replied. Her very kissable lips curled in a smile.

“You are so beautiful.”

“Thanks.” Her grin faded. “Hey, Ares. We need to talk.”

He scowled. “About what?”

“Marriage is an institution that shouldn’t be taken lightly.” Poseidon’s voice boomed over them, interrupting them. Ares bit back a snarl as the god of the ocean continued. “Do you, Juliet, take Ares, the god of war, to be your husband, to love and cherish in good and bad, wealth and poverty, whatever may come from now until eternity?”

Ares couldn’t swallow down the lump in his throat. She just said they needed to talk. Was she having second thoughts?

Juliet beamed at him. “Yes, of course I do. I want that more than anything.”

Ares blew out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. Juliet laughed. “Did you think I would say no?”

He gave her a sheepish grin. “Maybe.”

“Anyway,” Poseidon intervened again. “Ares, god of war, do you take Juliet, all around ass kicker, to be your wife, to love and cherish in good and bad, wealth and poverty, whatever may come from now until eternity?”

“Hell yeah, I do,” Ares answered.

Poseidon turned to him. “Do you have rings?”

“Yes.” Ares nodded down the aisle. The sound of hooves on the wood echoed through the club again as Pan approached the platform, a satin pillow cupped in his hands. Two gold bands were tied to it with satin ribbons. He held it out to the couple to take their soon-to-be spouse’s ring. They took turns to slide the other’s ring on their finger.

Poseidon announced to the audience watching. “By the power invested in me as the god of the sea, and the only one able to officiate a wedding in this family it seems, I pronounce you husband and wife.” He grinned at Ares. “Ares, my boy, you can kiss your bride.”

Ares gathered Juliet into his arms and parted her lips with a deep kiss. He felt her melt against him. This was it. They were husband and wife now and forever. But what did she need to tell him?

 

THE BRIDE

Juliet waltzed her way through the crowd, accepting the well wishes of more gods, goddesses, and various creatures from Greek mythology than she could ever imagine. Every once in a while she stole a kiss from her husband as he conversed with his family. Annabelle was off playing with Marcus while Pan watched over them.

She was going to have to buy Pan a new video game or something to thank him for babysitting.

A waitress, an ethereal fairy-type creature carrying a tray of champagne filled flutes, stopped to offer her one. She lifted her hand to pass but found a different glass placed into it. The liquid in this one was a shade or two darker than the champagne.

“Didn’t think you needed to raise suspicions yet.” Freddy’s voice floated through the crowd. She turned to thank him but he disappeared from sight just as quickly as he appeared.

Everyone quieted as music began to play. The leprechaun-turned-demigod who had just given her a flute of ginger ale hopped onto the platform, his bow tie now undone and dangling from his neck.

“Okay, it’s time for the dancing,” Freddy announced. The gods and goddesses in attendance cheered wildly in response.

Freddy waved his hands to get their attention then continued on. “Yeah, yeah. I know you’re all excited. Let’s kick things off with the groom and bride having their first moment as Mister and Missus…” His voice trailed off. “I forget you guys don’t have last names. Mister and Missus God of War. That works. Come on out, Ares and Juliet.”

The crowd parted before Juliet to reveal her new husband in the middle of the floor alone where the MMA cage normally stood. The glass was taken from her hand and someone gently nudged her towards him. She would have ran if the fear she would trip on the hem of her dress and faceplant wasn’t very real.

Instead she sashayed her way through the family until she stood before Ares. He wrapped an arm around her waist to draw her closer and took her hand in his. She draped her free arm over his shoulders. They swayed to the music deejayed by Apollo.

“Finally alone,” she cooed with a grin.

“That we are,” he answered. “So, you wanted to talk.”

She glanced at the god behind the turntables and speakers then nodded. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you. You’ve been so distant lately. I mean, I now know why but I thought you were going to break up with me. So I didn’t get a chance…”

“Juliet,” Ares chided.

She sighed. “I visited Apollo. I’m pregnant.”

He stopped dead in his tracks. His body stiffened a little. His eyes widened. By the murmurs around them, the family must have noticed. “You’re serious?”

“Deadly,” Juliet answered.

A moment later her feet were off the ground and the room was spinning around her. Okay, it was Ares doing the spinning with her in his arms. She gripped tight to his arms and clenched her eyes shut.

“Ares, please stop. I’ll hurl,” she pleaded.

“Oh, sorry.” He stopped then set her back on the floor. She barely got her world steady around her before he cupped her face in his hands. “How long?”

“About a month.”

“Wow.”

She gazed in his eyes, those constellations embedded there glowing a little brighter than usual. “So are you happy?”

“Unbelievably.” He pressed a deep kiss to her lips. As they parted he whispered. “I love you so much, Momma.”

“I love you too.”

A pair of bodies colliding into them tore their attention from each other. Mack and Athena wore impish grins as they laughed.

“Break it up, you two. There’s a party going on,” Mack joked.

“Yeah, yeah.” Ares gave him a playful shove in the shoulder, then led Juliet a few feet away to give themselves more room.

Juliet took in the couples that swayed around them then turned her focus back to the man in her arms. She laid her head on his chest with a sigh. She started the day thinking they were over. She couldn’t have been more wrong. And she was going to cherish every second she was with him until literal eternity.

First found in the #Mommastrong anthology, this is now the only spot to find War and the Wedding. This excerpt occurs between Death Do Us Part (Book 4) and At the Speed of Light (Book 5) in the Gods of DC Series.
To find the rest of the books on the series, click here.
Copyright 2020 Tricia Andersen